TOM O’Connor first took to the Horsham Lawn tennis courts back in 1954.
The veteran has played at a few clubs between times, but has been a regular at Horsham Lawn for the past 25 years.
“I started at Horsham Lawn in about 1954,” O’Connor said.
“I went away to various places throughout the state and returned in 1992. I’ve been here ever since.”
O’Connor remembers the days of dirt courts and said Horsham was “pretty lucky” to have lawn courts.
“There was only dirt and lawn courts at one stage in the ‘50s,” he said.
“Having lawn courts is going to be something not too many towns have, because now they’re all hard courts.”
Although tennis has taken O’Connor across the state, it was Horsham Lawn where he has made his mark.
He has been president and was awarded a life membership.
“Being president and being made a life member at the club (are my fondest memories),” he said.
O’Connor also remembers an important inter-regional tennis tournament at Horsham Lawn in 2002.
“The inter-regional in 2002 was a big event for the club at the time and we used 24 courts,” he said.
“I also remember way back playing on the Horsham oval for a tournament that was too big for the courts here.”
O’Connor has also been lucky enough to have some success on the tennis court beside his wife Noreen. He said he was no match for his wife when it came to tennis.
“She was a better player than myself. She dominated the courts,” he said.
“I was the back-up. We won the veterans inter-regional together in Swan Hill. I think that was about 1984.”
O’Connor said in the past, more people were around the tennis clubs than they are now.
“We now have a lot more sports than we once had,” he said.
“It used to be football in the winter and cricket or tennis in the summer. It’s all changed dramatically.”
Still, he holds plenty of hope for his beloved game in the Wimmera.
“I think it’s possibly the best sport I’ve been involved with, and I’ve been involved with a lot of football over the time,” O’Connor said.
“There are plenty of clubs around, we are looking for players and it is a great sport. Who knows what the future holds but it will be around for some time yet.”
O’Connor has played just two games this season in B Special before taking time off due to an operation. He isn’t making too many promises for the future of his longstanding tennis career.
“(My tennis playing plans) are short-term I would say,” he said.
“If I can fill in for the rest of the year after Christmas, after an operation, I’ll be happy, and we will worry about next year when it comes.”